Within the world of metal, initial perceptions can oftentimes be misleading. When I first heard of Canadian band Death Perception a while ago, they were billed as a death metal band and, while I’d say that’s more or less pretty accurate, they’re a lot more than that. Melding influences from thrash metal and groove metal, Death Perception creates its own particular style that should appeal to a variety of different listeners. For those looking to give the band a shot, there’s never been a better time as the band is back in the swing of things after a bit of a lull and better than ever.
Formed in 2012 in Hamilton, Ontario, Death Perception has been pumping out its own unique brand of metal for a decade now. The band put out its self-titled debut in 2016 and followed it up with Ensuing the Insanity the same year. Last year, the band returned with its best album yet, the thrilling Ashes. After a five year gap in LPs, it was a welcome return for fans of the Canadian metallers. I recently caught up with vocalist and guitarist Dana Bowman to discuss the band’s comeback album and what the future holds for Death Perception.
First off, how did the band get started? How did you all end up together and what made you want to form this particular band?
Dana Bowman: I think we were all kind of just drawn to each other and everything kind of fell into place. When I joined the band, Death Perception was already playing shows, but wanted another guitarist. We had already been free jamming for a while, so when the opportunity came up I just kind of fell into it. I feel like Nathan (Fraser) was the only one who put any conscious thought into forming the band.
What got you all into extreme metal in the first place? Who are some of your influences?
Dana: I remember always being into aggressive music, whether it was punk or metal… it always kind of resonated with me. Some of my biggest influences over time would be Blink 182, Green Day, The Offspring, System of a Down, Lamb of God, Children of Bodom, Mushroom Head… Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Whitechapel and Jinjer.
How do you write the music side of things? Do you have a process that you use and has it changed as the band has grown and evolved?
Dana: I almost always go through the same process. Most of my writing comes from being inspired by a new riff that I wrote, then writing a whole bunch of riffs that fit. At that point, I will usually have a pretty good idea of how the vocals, drums, and lead guitars will go. That’s when I try to solidify the song structure, by adding, simplifying, or even eliminating riffs, making a demo with drums and vocals and passing it off to the band. Not that we only use my ideas… I feel like it’s good practice to really nail the song before presenting it, otherwise it’s just a riff salad.
How do you write your lyrics? How do you decide what to talk about in those and was there a conscious decision early on about what the band’s content would be? I feel like your lyrics cover a variety of different subjects and, as a listener, it provides a nice variety of different things to think about while listening to the songs.
Dana: I feel like Kyle (Young) and I have always had similar approaches to lyrics. We write from the heart, and anything on our minds has the potential to come out. We had sat down and wrote “Scars Over Skin” together, and I couldn’t honestly tell you who wrote what. In the past, it would be like “These are Nathan’s lyrics”, “These are Kyle’s Lyrics” or “These are Dana’s Lyrics”. On Ashes I feel like we really came together. If they weren’t your lyrics you made them work for you. “Vermin” was originally written by Nathan, and I had ended up tweaking a few lines, and rearranging some phrasing, then Kyle got a hold of them and took them to a whole other level.
Ashes, your most recent album, is my favorite release from the band so far (which isn’t a comment on earlier releases, just on the strength of that particular one!). What was the recording/writing process like for that one? What was the goal with that record when you set out to write that third LP?
Dana: Ashes was a process… Death Perception plays a lot of shows, so it doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing unless we specifically dedicate our time to it. The way this album worked out was a lot of behind-the-scenes writing. Someone would get inspired at home, and make a demo, then someone else might get an idea and completely rearrange the song to fit the band a bit better, and the process kind of went from there. We knew we wanted to write on a deeper level than the previous albums, so by the time we had enough songs written, we really had to crack down, and figure out which songs made the cut. Which songs fit our style? Which ones were too basic? Which songs fit the emotion we were trying to hit? Ultimately, I think we had scrapped three or four songs by the time we were finished.
As a band, how do you feel you’ve grown over your three LPs? Very few bands are the same band by the time they have a few records under their belts so what is different about 2022 Death Perception as opposed to the band that put out the self-titled release in 2016? What hasn’t changed about the band and what will kind of always remain a constant with the group?
Dana: The band has changed significantly since 2016. I think since then we have really learned to focus on a common goal, we’ve matured, and most importantly, I think we’ve learned to work together. Sharing ideas among four other critical minds can be challenging and trying at times, but we always seem to figure it out. At the end of the day, we still all want what’s best for the band, and each other.
Having a record come out in 2021, during the middle of the pandemic, how affected were you all by COVID lockdowns and whatnot? Did that alter much for the band as far as getting music recorded and released?
Dana: COVID unfortunately slowed us down pretty hard. Ontario was constantly going in and out of lockdowns and changing restrictions. As far as studio time went, we were rarely all there at once and therefore didn’t have much influence over each other’s playing while recording. We did manage to have a really great album release party five months after the digital release, which was pretty nice.
Have you been able to play out in support of the new record and, if so, what was it like to finally get back in front of a crowd after not being able to play for a while?
Dana: We did have our album release party in November of 2021, and it was amazing to finally get out and perform again. Unfortunately, COVID took its toll on our favourite music venues… at this point, we are taking opportunities as they present themselves. I think the music scene is going to be very different from what we used to know.
You guys have really cool covers. Who does them and how much input do you give them about what you want it to look like. That one for Ensuing the Insanity in particular is one that really stuck with me (in a good way!).
Dana: Our first two album covers were self-produced (by the band), our first album was a simple hand sketch, while Ensuing took it a little farther. The cover is kind of a commentary on the hierarchy of government where everything trickles down. The idea was to show a group suffering, while an individual is coddled, and given special attention. Past that, you can see the shadow of a gunman intruding on the situation. While the adult in the picture (Ontario’s former Premiere) continues to follow orders, she may be putting her life, or the child’s life in danger.
What is the death metal scene like up there in Ontario? How has it helped and shaped the band?
Dana: The metal scene in Ontario is generally very friendly and supportive. We have everything from hard rock to blackened death, and it’s not super uncommon to see both of these types of bands at one show, which I think is pretty cool. I think that part of the scene has really helped us shape our sound. When we first started, we really just wanted to be the heaviest band from Hamilton, but after being exposed to so many sub-genres, (especially live) and witnessing positive crowd reactions to bands we thought were way left field, we really opened up our minds to playing something a little more relatable, rather than just being heavy.
Lastly, what’s next for Death Perception? What are your goals for the next few years of the band?
Dana: I think the next few years are still a bit of a wild card, we’re still just coming out of COVID, and I’m really not sure what the state of live music is looking like for the near future. However, we do plan on playing more shows, and potentially going on tour either across Canada, USA, or even Europe in the next couple of years. We have been working on new material as well. Some songs are nearing the final stages of writing, while we’ve barely scratched the surface of others. We hope to have a new album in the near future.